Hammonton Nurse looks at Pregnancy after age 35

Source: Hammonton Gazette

When I stared down at a very positive pregnancy test this past April, I thought “No way.”

Okay, sure. I had some pregnancy symptoms and I had missed the start of my cycle. But I am a nurse — we, of all people should have this stuff down to a very precise science. I had a painful early pregnancy loss and then fertility treatment prior to my firstborn, but I was in my 20s! So I am sure many of you could appreciate or even relate to my surprise this past spring.

I am also midway into the ripe old age of 35, also known as Advanced Maternal Age (AMA). Things look a little bit different for me this time around, as far as testing and obstetrical care. Here’s what is different now:

Non Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT): This is the fancy bloodwork many women are getting done now; especially if you are 35 plus, have multiple unexplained losses, or have risk factors for genetic or chromosomal anomalies. Most health insurances will not touch the hefty bill unless you are over 35 or have other risk factors.

Screenings are for the most common fetal chromosomal anomalies, such as Downs syndrome (trisomy 21), Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18), and Patau syndrome (trisomy 13). They isolate the baby’s placental DNA from the mother’s blood, with no risk to the baby, simply a blood draw from the mothers arm.

Extra ultrasounds: There was a time not so long ago (ahem us kids born in the ‘70s and early ‘80s) when ultrasounds weren’t even a thing. Now in a routine pregnancy you can expect at least two or three. If you are high risk, and/or of the magical age; you will have more. I was told to expect a “growth scan” around 32 weeks, which is something I didn’t have the last two times. According to the March Of Dimes:

“Being pregnant after age 35 makes certain complications more likely, including premature birth, birth defects and getting pregnant with multiples.” Older women are more prone to certain pregnancy complications including gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
“You will be monitored closely for any of these, so remember it’s important to keep those prenatal appointments and any specialist appointments as well. Much of this testing will be individualized, not only based on your age, but your past medical and obstetrical history and how your pregnancy is progressing.”

For anyone who may be in my shoes right now or thinking about it; don’t be daunted by a number. Remember 40 is the new 30 in 2019! There are also women doing this now well into their 40s and 50s — age 35 has nothing on that!

by Maria H. Drzaszcz, a Hammonton resident and registered nurse with 12 years critical care experience and the proud mom of two young children.

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